Travel is a wonderful way to relax and unwind, or broaden your horizons. But you can also travel to help and heal others — which is what our longtime client Holly Stincer and her husband Dr. E. J. Stincer do. We talked with Holly about their important work, what traveling to some of the toughest places in the world has been like, and how Southern Travel Agency has supported them:

Tell us more about the special travel you and your husband engage in.

Holly: I’m an OB nurse and my husband’s a doctor, and we do medical mission work with our team through our organization, The Great Commission.

We go on several local missions and one or two big ones outside of the country a year, which Mike Kerbelis helps us plan. We bring bibles and medical supplies to serve the local populations.

What are some of the places you’ve traveled to recently?

Holly: We’ve been all over the world! Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti — we were there the week of the earthquake doing relief work. That’s one of the toughest trips we’ve made, since we had to go over there completely self-contained, which meant we had to bring our own water and food, plus 50 trunks of supplies and IV fluids. It was really tough. We saw a lot of death, but we saw a lot of life, too. I delivered a baby at 5 in the morning!

Going into Haiti was so intimidating, because we were going into the unknown. We’d seen coverage of the disaster on T.V., and they were showing riots. But that’s not what we saw when we got there. We saw people being very gracious and very happy to have us there.

What’s the scariest situation you or your team has gotten into? 

Holly: We got arrested in Mexico! We were detained for 6 or 8 hours. We really never did find out why. Luckily my father, who was the head of DOT at the time, was able to get us out with help from back home.

That does sound scary!

Holly: Well, there’s always something on a trip — we were detained in customs for 6 hours another time. But that’s what people need to learn about mission trips: the key word is flexibility. And you should go with no expectations. If you’re flexible, you’ll be fine!

Sounds like you’ve encountered a lot of tough, tense situations. Have there been moments on your trips that have made you felt it’s all been worth it?

Holly: Absolutely. I remember on one trip a mother brought in her baby that was clearly dying. The mother was only able to put a teaspoon of milk in 8 ounces of water and feed that to the baby; the baby was 6 months old and only weighed 7 pounds. But we were able to take care of that baby — and he lives today.

On another trip we took 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses and machines for eye testing.  We were testing out the machine on a little old fella — he was maybe 80 years old — and it turned out he needed a very difficult prescription, a minus 8, since his eyesight was so poor. Luckily we had that, and when he put his new pair of eyeglasses on, he looks at his wife and said, “You know, I didn’t do bad for a blind man.” He had us all cracking up!

How does working with Mike at Southern Travel Agency make planning these kinds of trips easier?

Holly: When we’re trying to put a big group of us together for these trips, we need someone who can roll with the punches — and Mike does. He coordinates everyone’s travel schedules, and he’s even helped us with ticket issues getting back into the country.  He handles everything!

Does your church or organization embark on international aid or volunteer trips? If so, get in touch with Southern Travel Agency to learn how we can provide support and make the travel planning process easy. We’ll focus on the travel details, so you can focus on serving others. And if you want to get involved with The Great Commission, either personally or professionally, drop us a line and we’ll get you in touch with their team.  

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